Foreign talent living in Vilnius: it’s a great city for both career advancement and a comfortable and health-conscious family life
Foreign languages are increasingly heard on the streets of the capital city of Lithuania, and bilingualism in office environments is becoming commonplace. This trend is also supported by statistics: according to the July data from Vilnius Tourism and Business Development Agency Go Vilnius, as many as 71 000 residents in the capital are foreigners. The majority of those who have started living in Vilnius are citizens of Ukraine and Belarus, as well as skilled professionals from Western Europe and the USA.
The number of foreigners living in Vilnius has more than doubled since the middle of 2021. This is due to several factors: the ongoing war in Ukraine, the clashes in dictatorship-ruled Belarus, and a targeted policy of attracting foreign talent and investment from Western Europe and the USA. According to the recent data from Vilnius Tourism and Business Development Agency Go Vilnius, as many as 80 per cent of foreigners living in the capital of Lithuania are citizens of neighboring countries, 5 per cent come from Europe, and 2 per cent from the UK or the USA. In total, the number of foreigners living in Vilnius has increased by more than 35 000 over several years.
In order to unite the foreign and Lithuanian communities living in the city, International House Vilnius, a centre for foreigners’ relocation and integration services founded by Go Vilnius and Invest Lithuania, is organising a free festival “Vilnius is my city” on 2 September. Visitors will be invited to meet both foreigners and Lithuanians living in the city, integrate more easily into the city life of Vilnius, listen to inspiring discussions, and chat with representatives of the business community and the Vilnius TechFusion ecosystem. The event will be full of entertainment, including a climbing wall, performances by musicians and a special kids corner. According to Inga Romanovskienė, Head of Go Vilnius, the foreigners’ community in the country needs such events not only for new acquaintances but also for job and career opportunities.
“This event and our daily activities are aimed at uniting the foreign and Lithuanian communities living in Vilnius. It is very important for us to hear everyone’s voice, to know the needs and expectations of the city. We can see from the surveys that the foreign talents who come to Vilnius mainly want a smoother and faster integration into the city life – both personal and business connections. This festival is an opportunity for all of us to meet, get to know each other and further develop our friendships beyond the festival. We also want to attract the attention of business, since Vilnius is home to a large number of multilingual and experienced talents who can contribute to the innovations being developed in the city,” says Inga Romanovskienė.
Foreigners note that Vilnius is a city of opportunities
The festival “Vilnius is my city” will be another opportunity to meet foreigners who have already established themselves in the capital. One of them is Stephen Knox Jones Jr., who works at Vilnius University, having moved to Lithuania with his wife in 2021. Here he found good working conditions and access to funding from various organisations. After completing his postdoctoral work at the University of Texas in the USA in 2021, he won a EUR 1.2 million grant from the European Research Council to carry out his research at Vilnius University. According to the researcher, the Lithuanian capital city with its entire Vilnius TechFusion ecosystem is the perfect place to successfully carry out cutting-edge research and maintain a work/leisure balance.
“Vilnius is the perfect city for scientists to grow up in – we have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities at the university. In addition, the staff and students are highly skilled, which only encourages research and speeds up its results. In terms of the human factor, all my colleagues are very kind and helpful. If we don’t have something, there are always people ready to collaborate with us: from Lithuania, we can connect with research teams all over Europe or the USA,” says the foreigner who has chosen Vilnius.
According to him, it is very easy to travel in and out of Lithuania – you can take a train to Kaunas or buy a relatively cheap flight to a conference in Germany, or take a stroll in the woods near your home: “Good intra-city connection really contributes to relaxation: I can easily go to Vingis Park or the city centre from my home. I’m also happy that I can take my dog with me on public transport, which I couldn’t do in my home country.”
Speaking about the biotechnology industry in Vilnius, the researcher points out that, although it is still below the US market in terms of scale and number of companies, it rivals the best in the world when it comes to the quality of products.
“I’m originally from Boston, a home to many biotech companies. They have attracted a lot of capital in the past and today are well known worldwide. I would say that few other places in the USA could compete with this world-class biotech agglomerate. And although Lithuania does not have an industry of this calibre, in terms of quality, the products developed here are in line with global market trends. I believe that biotech companies operating in Vilnius could confidently join the ranks of Boston companies. The quality of the companies here is also reflected in what happened to me a few months ago – while walking in the Saulėtekis district, I suddenly bumped into a fellow student from my university days in the US. It turned out that he works for a biotechnology company in Vilnius, where he promotes Lithuanian products in the USA. This just proves that the products made here are not inferior to those made across the Atlantic,” adds Stephen Knox Jones Jr.
Looking at qualifications rather than experience
The fast-growing tech sector of the capital city offers a chance for a wide range of talent to shine, and the abundance of jobs helps everyone to find their own career path. Giovanni Proietta, an Italian who moved to Vilnius, says it was very easy to find work in the city. After coming to Lithuania in early 2017, he started working on 1 March. Giovanni says that Vilnius companies often look at qualifications rather than experience.
“If you are a young professional looking for a job in a major European city, I would recommend coming to Vilnius. Here you will find all the opportunities for growth and many high-tech companies willing to offer a job. They are looking for specialists in various fields, so people can easily find positions related to their education. I see Vilnius as the beginning of a beautiful story – the growing ecosystem will benefit everyone working in it. So I would like to invite you to join me in the growing city and together create another global success story,” says Giovanni.
Vilnius leaves a lasting impression on foreigners with its green spaces and exceptional natural landscapes. According to Giovanni Proietta, this is one of the many advantages of the Lithuanian capital, helping you to relax after work and maintain a healthy balance in your life: “There are so many green spaces in Vilnius that it’s hard to choose a favourite, but one place that brings it all together is Vingis Park, where you can forget about the bustling city life for a while. This and other green spaces have helped me to fall in love with outdoor sports again and I have started jogging and cycling to work. It just proves that Vilnius is a great city in every sense: for both career advancement and a comfortable and health-conscious family life.”
The free festival “Vilnius is my city” will take place on 2 September at the former Lukiškės Prison. The event starts at 3.30 p.m. The event programme and more information is available here: https://ihvilnius.lt/events/vilnius-is-my-city